Analyst Opinion - We are surrounded by doom and gloom and folks frantically trying to bring out products that can exist at the bottom of the market. The future that we seem to be anticipating is one where we all live in one-bedroom homes and drive cheaper Prius automobiles designed by the government. While this is short of, thank god, the world envisioned in Mad Max, it isn't exactly something we all are looking forward to. But the Dell Adamo is the first notebook in a long time that is as much a statement as it is a PC. It stands as a counterpoint to the doom and gloom that surrounds us.
The Adamo, as a halo product, reminds us that there are things you can aspire to and that not all vendors are working to redefine the very bottom of every market. It is beauty with a wild edge to it.
I've had a preproduction model for a number of days now and it is different from anything else I've ever carried. It is a product that has to be seen in real life and touched to be appreciated, but I will try to describe the experience as best I can.
The Rolex-like PC
When notebooks went ultra thin, they also went ultra light, but the result is they felt somewhat cheap. You pick up a 2-pound-plus notebook and it just doesn't feel substantial. Kind of like if you sneezed and you'd blow the screen off. Granted, there is something to say about not having to carry much weight (and that is still the practical path), but much like all of us did not have Timex watches and not all of us want to wear something that feels like one.
The Adamo is the first notebook I'm aware of that appears to be weight-balanced. At 4 pounds, it isn't a heavyweight and it gives the product a feeling of substance. It reaffirms you paid for something substantial. It was designed to have a balanced feel (though I doubt I'd carry it this way), and given this is the first time I've seen this done, I have little to compare it to. I have a competition sporting clays shotgun that has a similar feel and think that high-end sports equipment probably comes closest to providing something you could compare this to.
The look of this product is unlike anything currently on the market. A lot of products used metal as a cover but this looks more like brushed steel than brushed aluminum and it comes in two shades, an opalescent white and a semi-gloss deep black. I favor the black myself but the white is more practical because it doesn't seem to fingerprint as badly.
What adds to this unique appearance is the use of glass on the outside of the lid. Not only does this provide a unique look but glass is less likely to scratch than high gloss paint and it provides a depth of color no other notebook can match at this time. Think of it at the deepest hardest clear coat you have ever seen. But if you have a black one, make sure you carry a polishing cloth: High gloss black and fingers, much like they are on cars and appliances, don't go very well together. It almost makes me want to wear gloves. The opalescent white is a bit more practical in this regard but I'm kind of into black at the moment.
Even the packaging stands out as unique, encasing the product in a plastic shield and protecting it with shock resistant high impact gel on the edges. This is not your grandma's Dell.
With a high profile product like the MacBook Air, the accessories tend to be off the shelf and don't seem to go with the product. The Adamo breaks this trend with a power supply and optical drive that are color and finish matched to the core product.
For some reason it reminded me of the old Stutz Blackhawk which stood out during another time when the Auto Industry was out of step. That car, one of which was owned by Elvis Presley, had matching luggage that fit in slots where the back seat would normally be. For its day, it too was more about making a statement at a time when the U.S. was building horrid little things called Pintos, Vegas, and Chevettes.
A matching line of bags is also available to carry this product and you end up with selection of offerings building on top of each other to create a unique hardware experience.
It is easy to get caught up in the doom and gloom of today and anticipate living in a Pinto world. But the idea of having to only buy cheap stuff just seems incredibly depressing to me at the moment. While few will probably buy the Adamo, the times are the times; it is great that Dell came out with something some of us could aspire to. Something we can look at and admire so that those who can afford it can make a statement that they aren't overwhelmed by mediocrity and want to own one of the few PC products that are truly a piece of art.
I like imagining a better future, although I have to admit, the hair styles connected to this new better future will take some time getting used to. Then again, they may give you a new and creative place to carry your next laptop.
Seriously, the Adamo reminds us the economy will come back giving us a little hope and something to look forward to. I'm a big fan of hope and, as a result, I'm a big fan of Adamo.
Rob Enderle is one of the last Inquiry Analysts. Inquiry Analysts are paid to stay up to date on current events and identify trends and either explain the trends or make suggestions, tactical and strategic, on how to best take advantage of them. Currently he provides his services to most of the major technology and media companies.
The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the writer.